From 3rd to 7th of December, we had the opportunity to organise a workshop for national coordinators from 23 countries that received support during the EBBA2 data collection period, in Croatia, on Mount Medvednica. This was the final evaluation workshop for the MAVA project that has helped us immensely during the last three years in order to receive better coverage and to support coordination mainly in South-Eastern and Eastern European countries. The focus of the workshop was to facilitate better exchange and revision of data collected for EBBA2, to share the atlas experience from different countries and to learn from the project for the future.
During the last three years, with the support from MAVA foundation, the EBBA2 coordination team has managed to make agreements with 23 countries in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, supporting the data collection and coordination at national level. In order to evaluate the entire project and its impact in different countries, and also to facilitate better data exchange, a workshop was held in Croatia, with representatives from 20 countries attending.
Working with real data for the final EBBA2 provision
Due to the fact that the deadline for real data submission is approaching fast, the EBBA2 coordination team decided to dedicate the first part of the workshop to all issues related to data. The main aim was to answer questions of national coordinators and help them to compile the datasets from different sources, control the quality of the data, and provide them in the right format for the final data submission. In order for this part of the workshop to run as smoothly as possible, the coordination team was joined by two additional members from the Catalan Ornithological Institute, where overall EBBA2 data management is taking place. Although this part of the workshop included hard work from everyone, the participants agreed that it helped them a lot in solving their individual issues and enabled them to provide the final data set. There is still much more to be done by the end of the year, but we are positive that the national coordinators will manage this challenging task in the upcoming weeks.
Evaluation of the project
Before the workshop started, we wanted to hear from national coordinators about their experience and about the role the MAVA project played in the context of their contribution to EBBA2. The overall evaluation was very positive:18 replies (out of 20) said that the project has met their expectations, additionally one of the „no“ replies indicated that the project had achieved more than their expectations, and all replies indicated that the project was important for EBBA2 implementation in their countries. In terms of what they gained the most, it was increased expertise, professional and volunteer capacities, and in many countries it brought a better cooperation with different organisations within the country as well as with neighbouring countries. The difficulties they were facing varied between countries, but one that came at the top of the list was the lack of fieldworkers, others included large territory or territories where access is not possible, but a positive thing was that 18 countries would like to do a follow up project after EBBA2 finishes.
Sharing the experience from individual countries
In Croatia, the project helped in doubling the number of volunteers compared to 2014, to study some under surveyed species and to organise, for the first time, a national meeting of ornithologists sharing their experience. The latter point was shared with their neighbouring country, Serbia, where they also managed to organise national meetings where people could directly discuss the atlas data. The project there helped in filling the gaps in remote areas and to increase their professional capacities, however it did not manage to mobilise some professional ornithologists and raise interest of institutions. In Moldova, the situation was very different where a new NGO was created in 2016 and their work was mainly focused on mapping the country as much as possible, with very little human resources. It did bring new knowledge on breeding of some rare birds, and through the project they managed to make a nation wide census of White Storks which doubled the number of previously known nests. In Turkey, the project helped to gather data for EBBA2 but due to many complicated political and economic issues, there is very little chance for a follow up project. Despite the very complex situation in Ukraine, they managed to collect data from all parts of the country and bring the ornithologists together which enabled them to now plan their first national breeding bird atlas. Other countries provided a short overview of what worked well, e.g. making dedicated atlas camps and providing volunteers with simple methodological instructions in Greece, using the application SmartBirds for recording of birds and GeoNode platform for sharing and checking the data in Bulgaria, connecting all regional coordinators and mobilising existing data in Poland, and keeping the people involved and providing them with regular feedback in Russia.
Looking at the future and beyond EBBA2
Through the workshop, it became clear that the majority of countries supported through the project want to continue with their work in the future and will aim to produce their own national atlas or will try to establish a monitoring scheme. A common issue most of them are facing is the lack of financial support for their activities and in the majority of cases the lack of governmental support. Most of the partners involved face problems in securing the funding for their activities and have so far been dependent on foreign donations and projects. At this point in time, there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm among volunteers across countries, making it a good basis to use that potential and continue their work which we hope, that despite all difficulties, will be the case in the future.
All presentations of the workshop can be found here.
The organisation of the workshop was kindly organized by the Association BIOM from Croatia that assured that everything ran smoothly and to whom we own many thanks. We would also like to thank the MAVA foundation that enabled us with the funds to support the countries in the last three years and organize this workshop. Finally, we would especially like to thank to all national coordinators for their enthusiasm and ability to mobilize numerous volunteers during the last three years in collecting the data in the field – thank you for all of your hard work!
Marina Kipson, 12.12.2017